Digital learning and the key role of vernacular languages

In 2020, an India Spend analysis of data from around the world stated that early education in a child’s native language can improve learning, increase participation, and reduce dropout rates. In recent years, as debates about the criticality of regional languages ​​continue to arise, these statistics prove, at the most fundamental level, why local languages ​​hold one of the keys to a comprehensive education.

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 also highlighted the need to bridge the gap between the language spoken by the child and the medium of education. This is by ensuring that all children in grades 5 to 8 are taught in their mother tongue. In the school system, teachers are essential actors, which is why the policy also highlights the need for quality recruitment and the personal and holistic development of teachers.

A major concern that emerges with the implementation of the NEP 2020 is the quality of educational content in regional languages ​​as well as the skill levels of teachers, particularly at primary level. This is where educational technology (EDTech) can step in to fill the implementation gap to train and support teachers.

This becomes crucial especially today due to the loss of learning that many students have faced due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the education system. With personalized content on various edtech platforms, the ease of tailor-made courses in native languages ​​will help future-proof India’s school system through technology.

However, while the NEP considered the age of three years as the age of a “formal entry point into education”, it is only after around 20 years that the person is ready to enter. in the labor market. Therefore, there is a need to inculcate soft skills and holistic learning early, to ensure that in 20 years, every student is employable. To achieve this, children must be exposed to innovative and interactive educational content, as well as content that helps to elevate their conceptual understanding. Here, vernacular solutions bridge the language gap in understanding and education, thereby democratizing education at a fundamental level. Since the best learning occurs when communication is seamless, teaching regional languages ​​helps ensure better understanding. Edtech platforms offer these simple solutions.

The edtech boom is not new; Digital learning has been part of our education system for quite some time. The renewed emphasis on education due to the fallout caused by Covid-19 has just catapulted much needed attention to Tier Two and Tier Three cities. Where in the past edtech companies focused on bringing cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions to an English-speaking audience, today’s startups are focusing on one of the biggest hurdles in Indian education: the language barrier.

According to the 2011 population census, 96.71% of India’s population speaks 22 languages ​​and over 19,500 dialects. With the growing digital penetration in India and the popularity of platforms such as YouTube and Instagram among others, the way for a widely accessible medium of expression has been paved. In the education sector, creating greater demand for edtech can create an education boom in tier two and tier three cities.

As the wheel of learning and employment turns, online courses in vernacular languages ​​contribute to job creation, further fueling the demand for vernacular content. Although knowledge of English is still an essential job skill, especially in urban areas of India, it should be taught as a supplement to an existing system. The employability gap created by a lack of knowledge needs to be bridged in languages ​​that make it easier for learners and job seekers to understand.

From an industry perspective, according to an estimate by MarketsandMarkets, the size of the global education technology and smart classrooms market is expected to grow from $85.8 billion in 2020 to $181.3 billion. by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.1% over the forecast period. . Major factors driving this growth include the growing penetration of mobile devices and the resulting increase in internet users, education gaps caused by Covid-19, which has caused the growth of blended learning – a combination of online and offline learning to keep the education system from shutting down if another crisis strikes.

While Covid-19 has highlighted this urgent need for e-learning, it has also exacerbated the digital divide and prompted an urgent push to get digital learning solutions to every corner of India. It was then that the need for platforms emerged not only to offer home-based learning, but also to guarantee digital accessibility, in terms of language as well.

The task ahead to ensure and promote digital literacy among the youth of India is becoming clearer every day. The country’s edtech companies need to take advantage of the existing market in small towns, expand their businesses, and work with the government to ensure that the public-private partnership results in advanced pedagogy. Private actors can work with the government and ensure simple, accessible and affordable technological solutions in the university space. As the Union Education Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan recently pointed out, there is a need to empower young people by providing them with skills development and digital training. He added that India’s potential is the country’s 53 million youth. He also stressed that students should aspire to become employers, instead of studying to be employees.

The need of the hour is therefore to harness the existing potential and usher in an educational revolution on the wave of digitalization in India. Only then can we ensure that, when it comes to education and learning, no child is left behind.

Himanshu Gautam is the co-founder and CEO of Safalta

The views expressed are personal

Source link